UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW
GUIDANCE NOTES FOR
WRITING JOB DESCRIPTIONS
Management, Professional and Administrative Grades 1 - 5
Table of Contents
Headings i.e. Job Title etc. 5
Job Purpose 6
Main Duties & Responsibilities 7
Knowledge, Qualifications, Skills & Experience 8
Planning & Organising 10
Decision Making 10
Internal and External Relationships 11
Problem Solving 11
Organisational Structure 13
Action Verbs 15
Purpose of Job Descriptions
The main purpose of any job description is to outline the main duties and responsibilities
that are attached to a particular job.
Basis for Job Descriptions
Job descriptions should be based on detailed job analysis and should in themselves be
as brief and factual as possible.
Job Description Template
The blank job description template has been designed to enable you to provide up to date
and accurate information about your job in the form of a structured job description.
Job Description Sections
The guidance notes will take you through each section/heading of the job description,
providing guidance on how to complete the form. Please read the notes thoroughly
before completing each section of the template.
Completing the Template
Where possible try to ensure the information you provide is short but to the point and it is
important that each box/section is completed thoroughly and only the space provided in
the form should be filled.
If possible, try not to expand any section of the form and any additional information or
supporting letters will not be accepted. Depending on the nature of your job, you may
find that you do not need to answer some sections of the template. Please indicate ‘not
applicable’ where appropriate.
The information you provide relative to your post should describe your job AS IT IS NOW,
not as it should or might be.
Involvement of you Line Manager
Completion of the document should be an active partnership between your Line Manager
and yourself, involving discussion and consultation, as the final job description should be
agreed as an accurate reflection of your job. The completed Job Description Template
will then be signed by the appropriate Line Manager/Head of School/RI/US Department
Preparing a Draft Job Description
You may find it helpful to produce draft documentation to form the basis of an initial
discussion with your line manager or if you would prefer to discuss this with a member of
the HR Project Team initially then please feel free to do so, as assistance can be
provided throughout the process.
Sources of Assistance
Your line manager should assist you throughout the process of competing your Job
Description, and the members of the modernisation Agenda Project Team will be
available for any assistance required.
Enter your job title as appropriate. This must be an agreed title which exists within the
current structure. Discuss with your line manager if you are unsure.
The name of the School/RI/US Department.
The name of the College or Division of University Services.
Enter the job title(s) of the person/people you report to.
This should be an accurate and concise statement of the unique contribution the job
makes to the organisation and should be able to be contained within 1 or 2 sentences.
The purpose does not include a detailed list of how the job is done, or a list of challenges,
tasks and activities. You may find it easier to write the purpose statement by answering
one of the following questions:
Why the job exists – accurate and concise.
What is it that your job is intended to achieve?
It is sometimes easier to complete this section of the job description once you have
completed the rest of the template, as it is in effect a summary of your job.
To undertake duties of a clerical nature and provide secretarial support to the
School/RI/US Department as required and directed by the Line Manager
To provide a high level of secretarial support to the Head of School/RI and other
Academics members of staff.
To support the Head of Head of School/RI in the management of administrative services
throughout the School/RI to ensure the office runs smoothly.
Main Duties & Responsibilities
This section should be used to describe the key outputs of your job and you should try to
follow a logical sequence. A helpful approach is to ask yourself what are the key areas in
which results must be achieved to fulfil the overall purpose of your job (as defined in
o Firstly, identify and list the tasks that are required to be carried out giving some
indication as to the purpose of each task.
o Analyse the initial list of tasks and, so far as possible, simplify the list by
grouping/clustering related tasks together so that ideally no more seven or eight main
o Decide on the order in which the tasks should be described e.g. most important duties
first or adopt a chronological order; this can be useful when jobs are based around a
core process or calendar of events.
A typical format of a describing a task is as follows:
What is done (Action verb)… to what or with whom (Object)...to achieve what end
What is done To what / with whom To achieve what end result
To maintain and update the student database so that accurate and reliable
information is available for the
Head of School/RI/US Department.
To monitor and maintain the stationery budget to ensure expenditure is kept within
budgetary limits and stocks are
available at all times.
To clerk Departmental To ensure accurate information and
meetings dissemination of information.
A list of action verbs are attached for your assistance.
Knowledge, Qualifications, Skills and Experience
In this section describe/focus on the knowledge, qualifications, skills and experience
required to perform your job at the required level. It is not relevant to list your own
personal skills, experience and qualifications unless these match to the needs of the role.
This section should be agreed/completed with the assistance of your Line Manager.
Please be specific about the Knowledge and Qualifications required for the job.
SVQ 2/3 in Secretarial Studies
Comprehensive knowledge of filing systems and record keeping.
Please indicate which skills are required for the role.
Good IT skills.
Good communication skills.
Good organisational skills.
Attention to detail.
If there is any specific requirement for previous experience, please specify the length
and/or nature needed.
1-2 years experience in a busy office.
This section records, in list rather than narrative form, the significant factual quantities on
which the job has some direct of indirect impact. Please consider, where appropriate the
operational, financial and staffing aspects of the job when describing the scale of your
job. You can use any other dimensions as long as they are relevant to your job; use
dimensions you think best describe the scale of your job.
Typical job dimensions:
Staffing: Number and profile/job titles of staff supervised.
Financial: Specify recurrent budget – cost/turnover.
Detail budgets managed, scale of each, including grant monies,
discretionary funds and, monies generated.
Customer: Number and type of external and internal customers.
Operational: Specify range and type of activities, and/or services provided
Specify number of clients/people affected by your work
Specify number of students your job affects directly or indirectly
Administrative: Management of and/or attendance at committees.
Maintain and Monitor stationery budget - £1,000
Clerk 1 Committee
Clients – approximately 250 student – dealing with enquiries
Secretarial support for 4 Academic members of staff.
The purpose of this section is to provide the opportunity to identify aspects of the job that
are important and have a significant impact on the job. You should be able to comment
on the following areas:
Planning and Organising
In this section you should describe the requirement for planning and organising within
your job. This may be the direct requirement to plan and organise your own workload,
that of other people, or the allocation and use of resources.
Some useful points to include are:
- How does work come to you?
- How do you plan to deal with it?
- To what extent can you plan ahead and to what extent is your job primarily reactive?
- What timescales do you plan (daily/weekly/monthly)?
Organise/prioritise on a weekly basis once duties issued by Line
React to queries from clients.
Plan stationery orders approximately 1week in advance.
In this section you should look to establish:
- Examples of typical decisions you make or are involved in, or have a significant
influence on, through advising or making recommendations. If appropriate, give
examples where you are responsible for giving advice to a University decision making
body (e.g. advising a Committee).
- The nature of the role in making such decisions i.e. is it advisory or are you directly
- What guidelines are in place to support your decision making or alternatively
constraints on your freedom to act in your role (e.g. policies/procedures
Responsible for ordering stationery within budgetary constraints.
Make decisions on diary appointments
Decide which member of staff to forward complex issues/problems.
Internal and External Relationships
In this section, please identify the most significant internal (inside the University) and
external (outwith the University) relationships that you have in your job. Please also
describe the overall purpose of these relationships and the frequency and nature of the
contact you have (for example, exchanging information, negotiating, motivating etc.). Do
not describe every relationship that you have – only those that play an important part in
getting your job done.
Contact with whom? Nature of Purpose
Members of the School/RI/US to provide/exchange to ensure work is being
Department information carried out to the required
Lecturers exchange of to ensure lectures/tutorials
information run smoothly.
Students/Clients as first point of to answer routine queries.
In this section describe your role in problem solving. You should include:
- Examples of typical problems solved by you.
- The nature of your role in relation to problems solved i.e. ultimate problem solved by
you or provision of advice or support to enable another to solve problem.
- Contributions made by others to problem solving within your role.
- The guidelines in place to support end solutions.
To act as first point of contact for communication to Head of School/RI/US
Department and answer routine queries.
To identify problems outwith postholders remit and forward to appropriate staff
In the absence of the Head of School/RI/US Department, ensure appropriate
signatures are obtained for urgent document.
In this section briefly explain any aspects of your job which you think have not been
adequately covered in previous sections and which are important in understanding the
job. Please think about your job in both an internal and external context.
- A large scale reorganisational/change management task.
- Other significant project based work.
- Any seasonal/cyclical features of the job (e.g. The focus of the job changes
significantly during term time).
- Special environmental factors that impact on your job.
Externally this might include:
- Politics/public relations’ issues.
- Nature and extend of competition.
An organisation chart should be attached showing the direct reporting relationships
relevant to the job. The chart should include the following:
The job titles of the person to whom you report.
The job titles of all other jobs reporting to that person.
The job titles of all jobs reporting to you.
In addition, dotted lines should be used where appropriate to highlight indirect reporting
relationships i.e. outwith the employing School/RI/US Department but normally within the
University. If needed add a short paragraph to explain any particular aspects of the chart.
Alternatively attach a School/RI/US Department organisation chart, if available,
highlighting your position within the School/RI/US Department.
In this section, you and the agreed/appropriate line manager, should sign off your Job
Description Template. It is essential that you have been given the opportunity to meet
with your manager to discuss the content of your job description prior to the verification
of the Job Description Template.
As your Head of School/RI/US Department has overall responsibility for staff in your
School/RI/US Department they will also sign job description template, to endorse the
details given by yourself.
The date that the job description in final draft is approved by yourself, your Line
Manager and Head of School/RI/US Department.
Management/ Communication Research Teaching People
administer address analyse adapt collaborate
allocate advise clarify advise communicate
approve arbitrate collect clarify cooperate
analyse chair critique coach facilitate
arrange clarify diagnose communicate guide
assign communicate evaluate coordinate interview
authorise compose examine develop lead
consolidate consult extract enable mediate
control convince identify encourage motivate
coordinate counsel inspect evaluate negotiate
delegate define integrate explain persuade
determine document interpret facilitate recruit
develop draft interview guide supervise
direct edit investigate inform
establish educate organise instruct
execute (e.g. a explain research persuade
plan) formulate search set goals
evaluate interpret summarise train
improve negotiate survey tutor
increase persuade synthesise
manage present test
organise promote verify
Technical Financial Creative More Verbs (1) More Verbs (2)
assemble administer act deliver (results) approve
build allocate conceptualise expand assess
calculate analyse create implement assist
compute audit customise improve catalogue
evaluate balance design initiate check
design budget develop prepare classify
devise calculate devise process collect
engineer compute direct produce compile
execute develop establish promote demonstrate
fabricate estimate found reduce (losses) expedite
maintain forecast illustrate resolve familiarise
operate mange initiate (problems) generate
overhaul market institute restore inspect
programme plan introduce revise monitor
remodel project invent screen operate
repair reconcile market solve organise
solve research originate specify purchase
upgrade secure (funds) perform tabulate record